At Animal Medical Hospital of Naples, we pride ourselves on staying on top of new trends in veterinary medicine. Stem cell therapy may not be a novel treatment, but one application—platelet-rich plasma injections—is making headway into companion animal medicine. Commonly used for years in human athlete and equine medicine, platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRPT, is becoming more widely available for dogs and cats. We use PRPT for a variety of musculoskeletal injuries at a fraction of the cost of stem cell therapy, and it may be beneficial for your pet.
How can platelet-rich plasma injections help your pet?
Animals are masters at hiding their pain, so it may be difficult to tell when your pet is having mobility issues. We tend to chalk up arthritis pain in older pets as a normal sign of aging, but there are often treatment options that can help these pets live comfortably. In addition to joint supplements, cold laser therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and anti-inflammatories, we can incorporate platelet-rich plasma injections into a treatment plan. Injured pets can also enjoy the advantages of PRPT. Health conditions that can often benefit from PRPT include:
- Ligament sprains or tears
- Muscle tears
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Surgical incisions
- Dental issues
- Bone injuries
- Meniscal tears
While PRPT’s main use is in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, a wide variety of injuries can benefit from the increased healing enhanced by a high concentration of platelets.
How do platelet-rich plasma injections work?
When tissue injury occurs, platelets are the first responders, rushing to the scene to begin the healing process. Platelets send signals, or growth factors, to attract building blocks for healing, such as collagen, fibroblasts, and bone. When we administer a platelet-rich plasma injection, we boost the body’s natural healing ability by delivering a concentrated dose of the growth factors found in platelets directly to the injury. There are two methods for delivering a PRP injection:
- Intravenously — We use intravenous injections in situations where it is difficult to reach the site of injury, or if there are multiple sites that will benefit from PRPT. When injected into a vein, platelet-rich plasma travels throughout the body, searching out injured areas to heal. This indirect method of therapy may not be as beneficial as localized treatment, but it can still provide a healing boost.
- At the site of injury — For a muscle or ligament tear, hip dysplasia, or surgical site, direct injection is the most beneficial. Injecting platelet-rich plasma into the site of injury speeds healing by adding growth factors directly into the area.
How are platelet-rich plasma injections performed?
The process for a platelet-rich plasma injection is fairly simple.
- We draw blood from your pet. We take a small blood sample from your pet to ensure there is no disease transmission or rejection of plasma from another animal.
- We process the blood sample. We spin the blood down using a special centrifuge to separate the red blood cells and white blood cells from the platelets and plasma. Once we separate the plasma from the cells, a much higher concentration of platelets is achieved. We then activate the platelets using a combination of substances and procedures to stimulate the release of growth factors, which aid in the healing process.
- We inject the platelet-rich plasma to help heal your pet. Depending on the temperament of your pet, we may need to sedate or anesthetize her to ensure the platelet-rich plasma injection is administered correctly. Minor discomfort may occur, so a local anesthetic may also be used to help ease the sting.
What happens after a platelet-rich plasma injection is administered?
The entire process only takes about 45 minutes, but your pet is typically hospitalized for the day to monitor her reaction to the injection, and to allow recovery from sedation. At home, ice is applied to the injection site for 15 minutes twice a day to reduce inflammation and pain. This is usually only necessary for the first few days following the procedure, and you should quickly notice an improvement in your pet’s mobility. Most pets can resume normal activity within a week, and you should notice a significant improvement in your pet’s comfort level within 10 days. Additional treatments may be needed to maximize the benefits of this healing therapy.
Think your pet could benefit from platelet-rich plasma injections? Give our office a call to schedule an appointment.